Passchendaele – The Elusive Familiarity of War – by Dean O’Gorman

12 April – 2 December 2018

New Zealand actor, artist and photographer Dean O’Gorman has a new exhibition at The Great War Exhibition, focusing on the role New Zealand soldiers played in the First World war at Passchendaele.

O’Gorman has combined three of his personal passions — acting, photography and understanding the cost of the war — to bring the exhibition to life. The photographs were shot on location on an Auckland farm, where Dean recreated the muddy quagmire that has symbolised the battles at Passchendaele. New Zealand actors dressed in hired costumes depict what Passchendaele must have been like for our troops.

“These photographs are a culmination of both my lifelong fascination with the First World War, and more recently, my trip to Belgium in 2017 to document the story of five kiwi brothers who fought fought in the battle of Passchendaele in the Great War.”

The documentary, Spurred On, also features as part of the exhibition. Information about the documentary and its Canadian counterpart can be found here.

Dean O'Gorman, Jed Brophy and Joseph
Dean O’Gorman (left) stands with Jed Brophy and Darren Young, who acted as NZ soldiers. Jed and Joseph are pointing at themselves in Dean’s photo.

“I grew up with anecdotes from my Grandfather about his experience in the Second World War, stories from my great-Uncle about the Somme. They were stories of loss, comradery and sadness; fascinating and terrible — so close and yet somehow elusive.”

The exhibition has featured on Radio New Zealand’s morning report here, and on Radio Live here. Dean talks about his experiences during the photo shoot in this article on Stuff.

Dean O'Gorman's Exhibition: Passchendaele - The Elusive Familiarity of War
Dean O’Gorman, actors from his photo shoots, and Exhibitions Manager, Ian Wards, install the photos.

Dean O’Gorman may be best known for his role as the dwarf Fili in Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and has also appeared in many other movies and TV shows.